73 Best Pat Riley Quotes on Basketball, Success and Life

Pat Riley born as Patrick James Riley on March 20, 1945 is one of the most successful figures in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

As a player, coach and executive, he became synonymous with success and confidence, embodying the spirit of high-pressure gigs in the sport.

Despite having a modest career as a player, Riley transitioned into coaching and executive roles with aplomb.

As head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, he won four championships, earning the term “Showtime” for the team’s flashy, dominant style.

Pat Riley

He later coached the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, where his versatility and leadership shone.

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In his front-office role with Miami, he was instrumental in recruiting LeBron James, leading to two more franchise titles.

Despite often being mocked for his demeanor, Riley’s impact on basketball is undeniable, earning him a place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

His trademark on the term “three-peat” embodies his bold confidence and substantial contributions to the game.

Here is a best collection of the Pat Riley quotes.

Best Pat Riley Quotes


There is no such thing as life in-between. ~ Pat Riley.


You have to defeat a great player’s aura more than his game. ~ Pat Riley.


There’s no such thing as coulda, shoulda, or woulda. If you shoulda and coulda, you woulda done it. ~ Pat Riley.


Until you change the way that you look at things, Those things will never change. ~ Pat Riley.


You can only receive what you’re willing to give. ~ Pat Riley.


Discipline is not a nasty word. ~ Pat Riley.

You can never have enough talent. ~ Pat Riley.


Great players crave instruction on their weaknesses. ~ Pat Riley.

To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way. ~ Pat Riley.


Great effort springs naturally from great attitude. ~ Pat Riley.

It’s what you get from games you lose that is extremely important. ~ Pat Riley.

Don’t let other people tell you what you want. ~ Pat Riley.


If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. ~ Pat Riley.

The Ten Commandments were not a suggestion. ~ Pat Riley.

Anytime you stop striving to get better, you’re bound to get worse. ~ Pat Riley.


Hard work guarantees you nothing, but without it you don’t stand a chance. ~ Pat Riley.

Famous Pat Riley Quotes

When you face a fork in the road, step on the exhilarator! ~ Pat Riley.

Great teamwork is the only way we create the breakthroughs that define our careers. ~ Pat Riley.

Public life is regarded as the crown of a career, and to young men it is the worthiest ambition. Politics is still the greatest and the most honorable adventure. ~ Pat Riley.


You have no choices about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again. ~ Pat Riley.

Excellence happens when you try each day to both do and be, a little better than you were yesterday! ~ Pat Riley.

All I did from day-to-day is coach. That’s what my job was, that’s what my passion was, and the fact that now it’s something I’m being considered for is just mind-blowing to me, that I would ever be in that kind of company. ~ Pat Riley.

There’s always the motivation of wanting to win. Everybody has that. But a champion needs, in his attitude, a motivation above and beyond winning. ~ Pat Riley.

No rebounds – no rings. ~ Pat Riley.


The key to success is to learn to do something right and then do it right every time. ~ Pat Riley.

When you’re playing against a stacked deck, compete even harder. ~ Pat Riley.

Inspirational Pat Riley Quotes

Being ready isn’t enough; you have to be prepared for a promotion or any other significant change. ~ Pat Riley.

Being a part of success is more important than being personally indispensable. ~ Pat Riley.

From nobody to upstart. From upstart to contender. From contender to winner. From winner to champion. From champion to Dynasty. ~ Pat Riley.

When you leave it to chance, then all of a sudden you don’t have any more luck. ~ Pat Riley.


A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning. ~ Pat Riley.

Great players and great teams want to be driven. They want to be pushed to the edge. They don’t want to be cheated. Ordinary players and average teams want it to be easy. ~ Pat Riley.

If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges. ~ Pat Riley.

People who create 20% of the results will begin believing they deserve 80% of the rewards. ~ Pat Riley.

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. ~ Pat Riley.


Never be ready to play yesterday. Being ready to play today is what’s important. ~ Pat Riley.

Great Pat Riley Quotes

Show the world how much you’ll fight for the winners circle. ~ Pat Riley.

Commitment to the team – there is no such thing as in-between, you are either in or out. ~ Pat Riley.

The changes in your life aren’t always what you hoped for. But they usually help you grow. ~ Pat Riley.

The most DIFFICULT thing for individuals to do when they become part of a team is to sacrifice, it is much EASIER to be selfish. ~ Pat Riley.

When you’re playing against a stacked deck, compete even harder. Show the world how much you’ll fight for the winners circle. If you do, someday the cellophane will crackle off a fresh pack, one that belongs to you, and the cards will be stacked in your favor. ~ Pat Riley.

Whatever it takes to win. ~ Pat Riley.


He’s the greatest clutch player I’ve ever seen. The hell with Jerry West! ~ Pat Riley.

Giving yourself permission to lose guarantees a loss. ~ Pat Riley.

The key to teamwork is to learn a role, accept a role, and strive to become excellent playing it. ~ Pat Riley.

Inspiring Pat Riley Quotes

I’d like my reputation to stay as it is and to be remembered for a wonderful decade. ~ Pat Riley.

Basketball is a business. Pure and simple. If you want to have fun, go to the YMCA. ~ Pat Riley.

Shoulda, coulda, and woulda won’t get it done. In attacking adversity, only a positive attitude, alertness, and regrouping to basics can launch a comeback. ~ Pat Riley.

When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, its ready to climb. ~ Pat Riley.

When a great team loses through complacency, it will constantly search for new and more intricate explanations to explain away defeat. ~ Pat Riley.

Management must speak with one voice. When it doesn’t management itself becomes a peripheral opponent to the team’s mission. ~ Pat Riley.

Any team can be a miracle team. The catch is that you have got to go out and work for your miracles. Effort is what ultimately separates great teams from ordinary teams. ~ Pat Riley.


In every adversity, there is a seed of equivalent benefit. ~ Pat Riley.

Memorable Pat Riley Quotes

In all the research you do as a coach, studying other coaches and championship-type situations, you find that all those teams combined talent with great defense. You’ve got to stop other teams to win. ~ Pat Riley.

Basketball is a game of conditioning and fatigue. That’s why I believe in practicing a team to train when it’s exhausted. ~ Pat Riley.


You prove your worth with your actions, not with your mouth. ~ Pat Riley.

We sometimes need adversity to fathom our true depths. ~ Pat Riley.

A particular shot or way of moving the ball can be a player’s personal signature, but efficiency of performance is what wins the game for the team. ~ Pat Riley.

Coaches who let a championship team back off from becoming a dynasty are cowards. ~ Pat Riley.

When a milestone is conquered, the subtle erosion called entitlement begins its consuming grind. The team regards its greatness as a trait and a right. Half hearted effort becomes habit and saps a champion. ~ Pat Riley.

After a glorious victory in a grand war, the hardest battle to fight is the first little skirmish of the next campaign. ~ Pat Riley.

All of us have at least one great voice deep inside. ~ Pat Riley.


You’re either in or out. There’s no in between. ~ Pat Riley.

Top Pat Riley Quotes

The true warrior understands and seizes that moment by giving an effort so intense and so intuitive that it could only be called one from the heart. ~ Pat Riley.

Teamwork requires that everyone’s efforts flow in a single direction. Feelings of significance happen when a team’s energy takes on a life of its own. ~ Pat Riley.

Each Warrior wants to leave the mark of his will, his signature, on important acts he touches. This is not the voice of ego but of the human spirit, rising up and declaring that it has something to contribute to the solution of the hardest problems, no matter how vexing! ~ Pat Riley.


Complacency is the last hurdle standing between any team and its potential greatness. ~ Pat Riley.

Am I a control freak? No. Do I believe in organization? You bet. In discipline? In being on time and making sure everything at the hotel is ready and right? Definitely. I don’t control players. I try to control the environment around the players so they can flourish. ~ Pat Riley.

There can only be one state of mind as you approach any profound test; total concentration, a spirit of togetherness, and strength. ~ Pat Riley.

There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either in or out. There’s no such thing as a life in between. ~ Pat Riley.


Look for your choices, pick the best one, then go with it. ~ Pat Riley.

In every contest, there comes a moment that separates winning from losing. The true warrior understands and seizes that moment. ~ Pat Riley.

If you get tough mentally, you can get tough physically and overcome fatigue. ~ Pat Riley.

So these were the 73 top Pat Riley quotes and sayings on basketball, coaching, teamwork, commitment and success.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Charles K Kao quotes and Alphonse Karr quotes.

Short Biography of Pat Riley

Pat Riley was born in 1945 and has made a huge mark on the NBA as a player, coach and executive, especially with the Miami Heat.


Known as “the Godfather,” he’s won five championships as a coach, including four with the Lakers and one with the Heat.

Full NamePatrick James Riley
BornMarch 20, 1945 (age 78), Rome, New York, U.S.
Height/Weight6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) / 205 lb (93 kg)
High SchoolLinton (Schenectady, New York)
CollegeKentucky (1964–1967)
NBA Draft1967: 1st round, 7th overall pick by San Diego Rockets
Playing Career1967–1976
PositionShooting guard
Number42, 12
Coaching Career1979–2008
Teams As PlayerSan Diego Rockets (1967–1970), Los Angeles Lakers (1970–1975), Phoenix Suns (1975–1976)
Teams As CoachLos Angeles Lakers (Assistant 1979–1981, Head 1981–1990), New York Knicks (1991–1995), Miami Heat (1995–2003, 2005–2008)
Player HighlightsNBA champion (1972), First-team All-American – USBWA (1966), Third-team All-American – AP, UPI (1966), SEC Player of the Year – AP (1966), No. 42 retired by Kentucky Wildcats
Coach Highlights5× NBA champion (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2006), 3× NBA Coach of the Year (1990, 1993, 1997), 9× NBA All-Star Game head coach (1982, 1983, 1985–1990, 1993), Top 10 Coaches in NBA History
Assistant Coach HighlightNBA champion (1980)
Executive Highlights2× NBA champion (2012, 2013), NBA Executive of the Year (2011)
Playing StatsPoints 3,906 (7.4 ppg), Rebounds 855 (1.6 rpg), Assists 913 (1.7 apg)
Coaching RecordNBA 1210–694 (.636)

He’s been part of the NBA Finals in various roles, making it to 25% of all finals ever.

Riley also made history by winning championships in four different roles and has been honored as one of the top 10 coaches in NBA history.

He’s won the NBA Coach of the Year three times and led teams in the All-Star Game nine times.

Quick Facts about Pat Riley

  • Pat Riley rocked the NBA both as a player and coach.
  • He led the Showtime Lakers to five NBA championships in the ’80s.
  • Riley came up with “three-peat” during the Lakers’ 1988 championship run.
  • Known for his slick hair and sharp suits, Riley’s style is iconic.
  • He introduced “positionless basketball” to the game.
  • Riley’s written books on leadership and motivation, like “The Winner Within.”
  • He snagged the NBA Coach of the Year Award in 1990.
  • Post-coaching, Riley took on executive roles, including Miami Heat’s president.
  • His motivational speeches are legendary for firing up teams.
  • The Basketball Hall of Fame counts Riley among its esteemed members.
  • He was pivotal in forming the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” with James, Wade, and Bosh.
  • As a player, Riley was with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1967 to 1975.
  • His coaching magic led to Lakers’ wins in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988.
  • Riley’s knack for fashion made him stand out on the sidelines.
  • His innovative coaching strategies changed how players were utilized on the court.
  • Riley’s books offer insights into winning mindsets and team dynamics.
  • The 1990 season saw Riley leading the Lakers to a whopping 63 wins.
  • In his executive career, Riley has been instrumental in building championship teams.
  • Players have been inspired and motivated by Riley’s powerful words.
  • His induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame cements his basketball legacy.
  • Riley’s strategy brought LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh together in Miami, creating a dominant team force.

Top Questions about Pat Riley

Q: How many NBA championships has Pat Riley won?

A: Pat Riley has won nine NBA championships.

Q: Why is Pat Riley nicknamed “The Godfather”?

A: He’s called “The Godfather” due to his authoritative appearance and influence.

Q: What’s Pat Riley’s net worth as of 2021?

A: His net worth is estimated at around $80 million.

Q: How long did Pat Riley coach the Lakers?

A: He coached the Lakers for nine years, securing four NBA titles.

Q: Did Pat Riley play in the NBA?

A: Yes, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers and was part of a championship team.

Q: Who coached Pat Riley in college?

A: Adolph Rupp coached him at the University of Kentucky.

Q: Total rings Pat Riley owns?

A: He has nine NBA Finals rings across various roles.

Q: Did Pat Riley coach LeBron James?

A: While he didn’t coach LeBron, he was instrumental in bringing him to the Miami Heat.

Q: What’s Pat Riley’s coaching style?

A: He’s known for a disciplined approach focusing on teamwork and defense.

Q: What role does Pat Riley have with the Miami Heat?

A: He serves as the President, overseeing basketball operations.

Q: How did Pat Riley earn his “The Godfather” nickname?

A: Through his strong influence and business acumen in basketball.

Q: What’s Pat Riley’s contribution to the term “Three-Peat”?

A: He trademarked the term after the Lakers’ consecutive championships in the ’80s.

Q: Has Pat Riley authored any books?

A: Yes, he’s written books like “Showtime” and “The Winner Within”.

Q: What was Pat Riley’s most successful coaching season?

A: The 1986-1987 season with the Lakers, achieving a 65-17 record and an NBA title.

Q: Does Pat Riley hold any coaching records?

A: Yes, he has the most NBA Finals appearances as a head coach.

Q: What are Pat Riley’s achievements as an executive?

A: He’s known for building the Miami Heat into a championship-winning team, securing key players and guiding the team to multiple Finals appearances.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar